New look to top-flight summits

While Chelsea FC leading in England is far from surprising, the appearance of AS Saint-Etienne, AC Cesena and 1. FSV Mainz 05 on top elsewhere after the weekend is somewhat unexpected.

Mainz are two points clear at the Bundesliga summit after Saturday's 2-0 win against Bremen
Mainz are two points clear at the Bundesliga summit after Saturday's 2-0 win against Bremen ©Getty Images

The upper echelons of the German, Italian and French top flights have a somewhat unexpected appearance thanks to the early-season form of some unheralded clubs. Chelsea FC, however, go from strength to strength in the Premier League after another emphatic win as recaps in its review of all the major weekend action.

There remains an unfamiliar look to the Bundesliga summit after UEFA Champions League contenders FC Bayern München, SV Werder Bremen and point-less FC Schalke 04 all failed to win. The latter two both fell to defeats, 2-0 and 3-1 against 1. FSV Mainz 05 and BV Borussia Dortmund respectively, while Bayern drew 0-0 with 1. FC Köln. The titleholders are now seven points behind Mainz, whose 100% record gives them a two-point lead over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, held 2-2 at 1. FC Kaiserslautern. VfB Stuttgart, meanwhile, beat VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach 7-0, Pavel Pogrebnyak scoring a hat-trick.

Twenty-eight years after they last led the French top flight, AS Saint-Etienne head Ligue 1 following Saturday's 3-0 victory against Montpellier Hérault SC. Former incumbents Toulouse FC slipped to second on goals scored after a 0-0 draw with AS Monaco FC. Stade Rennais FC suffered a similar fate, finishing goalless against Paris Saint-Germain FC in the French capital on Sunday and ending the weekend in third when the summit beckoned. Titleholders Olympique de Marseille, meanwhile, beat AC Arles-Avignon 3-0 − only their second league victory in six outings.

AC Cesena are the surprise leaders having triumphed 1-0 at home against US Lecce. Also unbeaten on seven points are FC Internazionale Milano, though Rafael Benítez's side needed two second-half goals from Samuel Eto'o to beat US Città di Palermo 2-1. City rivals AC Milan could only draw 1-1 with Calcio Catania, while fellow UEFA Champions League participants AS Roma were also held – 2-2 by Bologna FC. Back at the summit, AC Chievo Verona and Brescia Calcio are both a point adrift of the pacesetters along with S.S. Lazio, who beat ACF Fiorentina 2-1 on Saturday.

Free-scoring Chelsea FC made it five wins out of five in the Premier League with a 4-0 defeat of Blackpool FC at Stamford Bridge. Florent Malouda (2), Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba were on target in the first half for a team four points clear of Arsenal FC and Manchester United FC. The former had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Sunderland AFC after Darren Bent's added-time equaliser and Alex Song's dismissal, while United had Dimitar Berbatov to thank for a 3-2 home win against Liverpool FC, who had come from two down through Steven Gerrard's second-half double.

FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF are still in pursuit of Valencia CF despite collecting maximum points. Cristiano Ronaldo struck the decisive goal in Saturday's 2-1 victory against Real Sociedad de Fútbol but Madrid did not remain top for long. Valencia assumed that mantle on Sunday having overcome Hercules CF 2-1, preserving their status as the division's only club with a maximum nine points. Indeed, Madrid dropped to third after Sevilla FC beat Málaga CF 2-1, with Barça sixth having defeated Club Atlético de Madrid by the same scoreline. It was not all good news for Josep Guardiola, though, who watched Lionel Messi taken off late on with ankle ligament damage.

There were decisive wins for three other UEFA Champions League hopefuls across the continent this weekend. In Denmark, César Santin scored twice as FC København prevailed 2-0 against Brøndby IF to preserve their unbeaten record and pull four points clear of FC Midtjylland. AFC Ajax have a two-point cushion of their own in the Eredivisie following a 2-1 defeat of Feyenoord in Rotterdam, while Óscar Cardozo scored twice as Liga titleholders SL Benfica kick-started their season with a 2-0 victory against Lisbon rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal.